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For Your Information: Informational Interviews Print
Written by Abby Kohut   

It still amazes me that in my 15 year career of corporate recruiting experience that only a handful of people have asked to have an informational interview. No matter what stage of career you are at, asking for an opportunity to meet with an expert inside the walls of a company where you might want to work someday is a tool in your toolbox worth dusting off.

According to Wikipedia, an "Informational Interview" is defined as "a meeting in which a job seeker asks for advice rather than employment." The job seeker uses the interview to gather information on the field, find employment leads, and expand their professional network. This differs from a job interview because the job seeker initiates the interview and asks the questions. There may or may not be employment opportunities available. Here are 5 tips to help make your informational interview a smashing success:
  • Prepare a list of questions about the interviewer's career and about the career opportunities in the industry and/or specific company. To help you create intelligent questions, Google the interviewer and research the company as you would do for a traditional interview.
  • Dress for success – make sure that you dress professionally as if you were on a real interview. In many cases, an informational interview can turn quickly into a real one if the person on the other side of the desk determines that you might fill a current need.
  • Respect your interviewer's time. End the interview when you promised to, and be pleased if the interviewer gives you a cue that they would like to continue the conversation.
  • At the end of the interview, ask for the interviewer's card. Ask if they would mind if you kept in touch. As you would with a networking contact, ask for names and contact information of people who your interviewer believes you should contact .
  • As with an interview, write a spectacular thank you note. Tell the interviewer how much you appreciated their time and give specific reasons why the information that they provided was valuable.

Informational interviews can also happen informally at networking events – good reason #435 for attending them. For example, while you are introducing yourself to a fellow attendee, you may discover that he is in the job, the industry, or the company that you are also interested in. If they oblige, ask him as much as you can at the event, and then offer to buy him lunch so that you can pick his brain a bit more. Very few people will turn down an opportunity to talk about themselves, especially if it includes a free meal.

Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
Despite the fact that the informational interview has the word "interview" in it, you should not expect that it will turn into a job offer. You should expect that you will gain a wealth of knowledge that can move you several steps down your path towards your new job. Candidates who think outside the box land outside the box jobs. If you are someone who aspires to greatness every step of the way, and someone who loves to learn, the informational interview may very well become your new best friend.
 
  • Tired of all the rejection? If you're interested in learning the Absolute truth about why you're struggling, sign up for a one hour "Capture a Recruiter" phone session today. Reach out to me today with any questions and for an absolutely amazing discount coupon!

Drawn from my 18 years of experience and research in recruiting and Human Resources, my blog posts are intended to provide insight into what corporate recruiters and Human Resource professionals look for when they are evaluating your qualifications. Simply reading these blogs will not guarantee you success. However, consistently applying the strategies mentioned, as well as developing your own personal interview style, will greatly enhance your chances of victory amidst the competition. I wish you the best of luck with your search as you begin to take charge of your career!